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The whats, wheres and hows of Agricultural Innovation Platforms

Marc Schut from the CGIAR International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and Wageningen University (WUR) recently published a book with Guidelines for Innovation Platforms. In this blog he shares the main findings from the book and his own opinion on Innovation Platforms.

Innovation Platforms are fast becoming part of the mantra of agricultural research for development projects and programmes. They are increasingly being proposed and used since they provide space to farmers, agricultural service providers, researchers, private sector and other stakeholders to jointly identify, analyse and overcome constraints to agricultural development. Although Innovation Platforms have been successful in addressing agricultural challenges, there is a risk that they are promoted as a panacea for all problems in the agricultural sector. This would clearly be a big mistake. In my opinion, we need to think more critically about when, how and in what form Innovation Platforms can meaningfully contribute to agricultural development impacts.

The “Guidelines for Innovation Platforms in Research for Development” contributes to this. Some time ago, I noticed that I was becoming increasingly annoyed with the Innovation Platform approach being opted as a silver bullet solution in agricultural research for development programs; especially for the sole purpose of disseminating (technological) agricultural innovations. Colleagues working in CGIAR institutes and other organizations had similar concerns and were willing to share their experiences on the use of Innovation Platforms. In total 12 of the 15 CGIAR centres provided input and this gives the publication and the key message it conveys extra weight.

The Guidelines aim to support agricultural research for development (AR4D) colleagues and organizations in: 1) Reflecting on when and under what conditions Innovation Platforms are an appropriate mechanism to foster collective action and innovation for resolving agricultural development problems and capitalizing on opportunities; 2) Designing Innovation Platforms, including the definition of realistic goals, facilitation mechanisms, timelines, responsibilities, and how to measure outcomes and impact; 3) Allocating necessary resources, creating the enabling conditions required for the effective implementation of Innovation Platforms, and developing metrics to assess their impact.

Read more at the Food & Business Knowledge Platform

Publication date: 6/30/2017

 


 

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